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Low progesterone symptoms

Are you curious as to whether you have hormonal imbalance? Perhaps you are thinking that it might be low progesterone? But you are not sure what the symptoms are?

Let’s discuss what the low progesterone symptoms are & the causes.

 

Hello, I am so thrilled to be here.

For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Michelle Cooke, Period & Hormone Naturopath, Natural Fertility Educator & Naturopathic Emotional Release (NER) Practitioner. I help women struggling with their menstrual cycles, have easy, pain-free periods, balanced hormones & emotional wellbeing. I’m the Founder and Director of Reproductive Wellness, a clinic located in Melbourne. I see patients online and face-to-face.

What is Progesterone?

Progesterone is one of our girly hormones. It is primarily produced in the ovaries by the corpus luteum after ovulation. The corpus luteum is the sac that is left over after the mature ovarian follicle (egg) is released during ovulation. It is also produced by our adrenal glands (which are two cute little kidney shaped glands that sit on top of your kidneys).

Progesterone is typically at lower levels in the follicular phase (prior to ovulation), but higher after ovulation because it is trying to prepare for a potential pregnancy. It will thicken up the endometrium (lining of the uterus) so that it is a nice juicy bed for the fertilised egg to settle into.

Oestrogen and progesterone are typically in a delicate balance. If you have low progesterone this may arise in oestrogen excess or dominance. This is known as relative oestrogen dominance, because in comparison to progesterone, oestrogen is low.

What are the symptoms of low progesterone (and signs)?

 

You don’t have to have every symptom / sign here to be low in progesterone.

 

  • Lumpy boobs

  • Painful boobs – typically prior to your period)

  • Premenstrual Spotting – spotting that is happening before your period

  • Sleep issues

  • Mood issues: depression, anxiety

  • Short menstrual cycles – because the luteal phase (phase after ovulation is shorter)

  • Irregular periods

  • Trouble conceiving

  • Miscarriage

  • Ectopic pregnancy

  • Tiredness

  • Headaches before your period

  • Bloating prior to the period

  • Heavy periods (if you have excess oestrogen)

  • Painful periods (if you have excess oestrogen)

  • Hot flushes

  • Migraines

What are some conditions that typically have low progesterone?

  • PMS (Premenstrual syndrome)

  • Fibroids

  • Endometriosis

  • PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)

  • PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder)

  • Luteal phase defects – the luteal phase is the phase that occurs after ovulation, there are issues with this phase arising in infertility & miscarriage

  • Hyperprolactinaemia – High levels of prolactin which is secreted by the anterior pituitary gland in the brain, one of the causes can be stress

  • Short luteal phase – if your luteal phase is shorter in length this would be due to inadequate progesterone levels which are able to maintain it

  • Luteinised unruptured follicle syndrome – This is when the primary follicle fails to release the ovum (egg contained inside the follicle) within 48hrs following the LH peak.

  • Menopause – progesterone is the after effect from ovulation. When you are menopausal (12 months since your last period), you are no longer ovulating so progesterone levels will be lower.

  • Perimenopause – this is the journey towards menopause, where ovulation occurrence typically reduces preparing you for those wise woman times to come.

 

What are the causes of low progesterone?

 

  • Lack of ovulation

  • Stress – a precursor to progesterone known as pregnenolone is used to make cortisol instead of progesterone, this is done to help you adapt to stress (because tackling a stressful situation is more of a priority). This will delay or stop ovulation

  • Low body weight – your body will think you are in danger of starvation so ovulation will be shut off because it is not a safe time to reproduce

  • Excess exercise – this is quite a stress on the body so it can result in delayed or stopped ovulation.

  • Abnormal follicle (egg) development – low levels of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) & LH (luteinising hormone) can lead to inadequate follicle development.

  • A low LH surge – LH typically surges at ovulation, so if this is low it causes low progesterone levels

  • Low cholesterol levels – Cholesterol is an essential building block for our hormones. Without it we aren’t able to make progesterone, which leads to low or absent progesterone & luteal phase defects.

  • Weight gain

  • Imbalance of bacteria in the gut – this will result in oestrogen not being cleared out of the body properly arising in oestrogen dominance

  • Constipation – This is because oestrogen has no where to go and it is reabsorbed back into the body arising in eostrogen dominance and progesterone deficiency

 

How is low progesterone diagnosed?

 

Either blood test taken 7 days post ovulation or a salivary test. If you have a 28 day cycle typically it would be done on day 21. But if you have a longer cycle than 28 days there would not be much point getting it tested in day 21 because you would typically ovulate later.

 

Can a Naturopath help with low progesterone?

Yes, absolutely. I would suggest seeing a Naturopath that specialises in Periods & Hormones like myself; to help support you. Perhaps you suspect you have low progesterone or you know that this is already the case for you. Or you feel like your hormones are imbalanced. 

Treatment wise, we would be using Natural medicine: including herbal medicine & nutritional medicine based on pathology findings, symptoms & signs, diet & lifestyle. I also use NER (Naturopathic Emotional Release) to look at underlying emotional contributors.

The treatment aims depends on your presentation but generally it would be things like:

-Assessment:

  • Nutritional Deficiencies

  • Hormonal imbalance: Girly Hormones (oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone etc.), Thyroid, Pancreas, Adrenals

  • Assessing gut health: might include microbiome testing for large bowel, SIBO testing for small bowel if appropriate.

  • Other general pathology

If you would like support with low progesterone or hormone balance, I would love to help you, go ahead and book a FREE 15 min discovery call below to find out more about how we would work together and if we are a good fit. 

If you have any questions or comments, pop them in the comments box below 🙂